Ve­gas is the win­ner at Glen Abbey

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL

It was only fit­ting that Jared du Toit took the fi­nal shot of the Royal Bank of Canada Cana­dian Open golf tour­na­ment.

Al­though the ama­teur from Kim­ber­ley, B.C., fell out of con­tention in the fi­nal round, he still got the big­gest ova­tion of the day at the awards cer­e­mony.

Fans gave him a rous­ing stand­ing ova­tion when he birdied on the fi­nal shot of the tour­na­ment at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, and again as he was given the Gary Cowan medal as the Cana­dian Open’s low­est scor­ing ama­teur player.

“It was awe­some,” said du Toit of the hun­dreds of fans that fol­lowed him around the course on Sun­day. “I prob­a­bly could have shot a hun­dred out here and they would have been be­hind my back all day. Hon­estly un­be­liev­able.”

Du Toit started the day tied for sec­ond and was in the top pair­ing with leader Brandt Snedeker. The 21-year-old at­tends Ari­zona State Uni­ver­sity.

He strug­gled in the front nine with two bo­geys and a birdie be­fore rallying with three birdies and a bo­gey in the back. Du Toit fin­ished the day a 1-un­der 71 and tied for ninth at 9 un­der.

Al­though it af­ter threat­en­ing to win or fin­ish above most of the pros, as the pros fi­nally found their rhythm on a hard, firm course that had frus­trated most play­ers all week. Still, du Toit fin­ished the week two shots bet­ter than world No. 1 Ja­son Day.

Jhonat­tan Ve­gas shot an 8-un­der 64, birdieing the fi­nal three holes, to rocket up the leader­board

and earn a one-stroke vic­tory. The 29-year-old Venezue­lan be­gan the day five strokes be­hind Snedeker, and four be­hind du Toit and U.S. Open cham­pion Dustin John­son.

Ve­gas earned $1,062,000 and a spot in the PGA Cham­pi­onship next week at Bal­tus­rol in New Jer­sey. He also re­ceived a two-year tour ex­emp­tion and a spot in the Masters next year.

Du Toit, who only had 15 fans fol­low­ing his trio in Thurs­day’s open­ing round, had noth­ing but praise for the Cana­dian fans who ral­lied to sup­port him af­ter 5-un­der 67 in the first round thrust him to the top of the stand­ings.

“Un­be­liev­able. The at­mos­phere they were pro­vid­ing was un­be­liev­able,” said du Toit, who added that he lost count of how many high fives he doled out on Sun­day, but that there were enough to make his hands sore. “Ev­ery tee box, ev­ery green, ev­ery­one was clap­ping, hol­ler­ing, ‘Go Canada!’

“It was truly un­be­liev­able. I’m on cloud nine right now.”

Mak­ing his break­out per­for­mance even more im­pres­sive, Du Toit learned on Satur­day night that he had bron­chi­tis af­ter what he ini­tially thought was a cold grew worse over the past seven days. Coach Derek In­gram drove du Toit to nearby Oakville Trafal­gar Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal and the young player only got five hours of sleep ahead of Sun­day’s fi­nal round.

“We’re go­ing to take care of this bron­chi­tis a lit­tle bit, prob­a­bly hold off the cel­e­bra­tion a lit­tle more,” said du Toit. “I don’t know what I’m go­ing to do. I haven’t thought that far ahead.”

In­gram, who was named the head coach of Canada’s men’s golf team ear­lier in the month, wasn’t sur­prised by du Toit’s per­for­mance.

“Jared’s been play­ing great, he’s been trend­ing re­ally well for the past six months,” said In­gram. “He’s been play­ing great, a bit of a sur­prise to be in the fi­nal group of the Cana­dian Open as an ama­teur, but not sur­prised that he played well at all.”

Adam Had­win (71) of Ab­bots­ford, B.C., tied for 49th at 1 un­der, ama­teur Gar­rett Rank (76) of Elmira, was in a group tied at 77th 8 over and Corey Con­ners (78) of Lis­towel, Ont., fin­ished at 12 over in 80th.

Had­win won the River­mead Cup as low pro­fes­sional Cana­dian, but even then he didn’t feel wholly com­fort­able tak­ing the award from du Toit.

“Lit­tle awk­ward hold­ing this with Jared play­ing so well this week, y’know, he beat me by eight,” said Had­win dur­ing the awards cer­e­mony.

FRANK GUNN, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Venezue­lan Jhonat­tan Ve­gas, above, had a 64 on Sun­day to win in Oakville. For Cana­di­ans, it was ex­cit­ing to see 21-year-old ama­teur Jared du Toit stay in con­tention for three rounds.

NATHAN DENETTE, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Jhonat­tan Ve­gas’s fi­nal round 64 on Sun­day moved him past nu­mer­ous play­ers to cap­ture the roughly $1-mil­lion prize money and an au­to­matic in­vi­ta­tion to The Masters.

ERIC BOLTE, USA TODAY SPORTS

Jared du Toit holds up his medal for best Cana­dian ama­teur.

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